In Anne Arundel County, 2 out of every 5 children live below the poverty level. While hunger in every context is wrong, the AACFB is making it a priority to provide basic nutrition to children in Anne Arundel County, who would otherwise go without.
Numerous studies show that child hunger weakens the infrastructure of our society, limiting the academic, social, and economic development of one generation after another.
The Anne Arundel County Food Bank (AACFB) began working with Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) three years ago with a Back-Pack Buddies Program. This program targets students that are food-insecure to receive fresh produce and shelf stable healthy food every week to take home for the weekend. This ensures students have a meal when the free lunches and breakfasts are not available. In addition the AACFB also works with AACPS to assist other needs such as school supplies, and clothing. Teachers and counselors have reported since this program began students are more engaged, able to concentrate and preform at higher levels.
Tackling hunger is a group effort. The AACFB distributes food to pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, safe houses and mobile feeding units throughout Anne Arundel County. In FY 17 the AACFB distributed over 2 million pounds of food. In effort to provide healthier options the AACFB has partnered with local farmers and stores. In FY17 the AACFB provided almost 250,000 pounds of produce to our agencies. Over the past five years our programs have been on a steady incline almost doubling after the recession in 08. After nine years the number of households assisted through our pantries have begun to level out assisting over 45,000 unique households annually of which 5% of these households visited two or more pantries a month and 17% were new families to our pantry program. Pantries distribute bags of food on a monthly basis. These bags including frozen meats, produce, shelf-stable foods, produce, perishable foods and bread and pastries. Onsite feeding programs consist of soup kitchens, shelters, transitional homes, safe houses and day centers. Onsite feeding programs served over 2.1 million meals in FY17. This is a 32% increase from FY16. In addition the AACFB assisted almost 10,000 households with holiday assistance for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The photo above is of MD Live Casino donating 500 turkeys. Elderly and infants are typically more vulnerable to health risks and there are a lot of elderly people living on a fixed income and have health conditions that requires the need for Ensure, Thick It or feeding tube food. To make sure no one is left at risk of hunger or malnutrition, which could increase poor health, the AACFB offers a Nutritional Supplement Program. The Nutritional Supplement Program offers Ensure, baby food, feeding tube food, gluten free foods, thick it and other items upon request making sure no one is left hungry and vulnerable to poor health. The AACFB has several Nutritional Supplement pantries throughout Anne Arundel County. In FY 17 the AACFB directly served 1,200 households from our Crownsville warehouse. In FY18 we are looking to add additional Nutritional Supplement Pantries throughout our county and require monthly reports from these pantries.
“A person that needs food, needs everything” Bruce Michalec, Executive Director and founder of the AACFB said. Taking this into account and in effort to help our clients reach self-sufficiency the AACFB offers assistance with furniture, household items, medical items, cleaning products, and toiletries. The AACFB’s member agencies even have free clothing banks throughout AA County. In FY 17 over 10,000 individuals were assisted with clothing, and over $30,000 worth of toiletries and cleaning items were distributed. Furniture is costly and when funds are already tight may seem out of reach. Our Furniture Program assists families and individuals with gently used items free of charge. Items available vary based on donation however the AACFB is typically able to provide dressers, beds, cribs, end tables, sofas, chairs, coffee tables, kitchen table and chairs, dishes, pots and pans, utensils, bed linens, refrigerators, freezers, stoves, microwaves and dishwashers. Our furniture program distributed over $200,000 worth of items to 1,000 families. Clients are referred to the AACFB by the Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services, Red Cross, Department of Aging and other local community and civic organizations. With many people paying exorbitant rates for high deductible health insurance or Medigap policies that still do not cover necessary items, the current system jeopardizes financial security for numerous Anne Arundel County residents with fixed or low incomes. Not only are hospital and doctor visits expensive, but so is the essential medical equipment necessary for those in need. To defray those costs, AACFB offers a medical loan program to the uninsured and under-insured in Anne Arundel County. Working closely with county hospitals, home health nurses, the Department of Aging, Social Services and other programs that identify needs in their clients and patients, AACFB is able to ease the stress and worry for those residents who have to decide whether to pay bills or buy necessary medical equipment. The AACFB loans medical equipment to those who cannot afford it, and at no charge. Equipment loaned this year include wheelchairs, hospital beds, walkers, hoyer lifts, nebulizers, shower seats, and more. One of those residents, Mary Homes, was the recipient of a motorized scooter.
Mary’s daughter, Janet Griffith, wrote a letter to AACFB to say how this scooter has impacted her mother’s life. Janet wrote, “For several years my mother has been trying to avoid two knee replacements to no avail, and now she is scheduled for surgery”. Janet explains that her mother was “so depressed that she did not lift her head much.” AACFB was able to provide Mary with a motorized scooter, and Janet wrote, “This scooter has given her such independence! My mother’s mood is good, she is more involved with projects and looks 10 years younger… I have no worries whether she can handle the recuperation. And it is all because of you and your wonderful ways.”
In FY 17 over 6,000 individuals were assisted. This program is not bound to only Anne Arundel County residents. In effort to best reach those in need the AACFB has partnered with new agencies including but not limited to Healthcare for the Homeless, Vision Health Mission Work, Home Based Medical Inc., Chesapeake Urology Clinic in Essex, Catholic Charities, Orphan Grain Train, a hospital in Alabama, in home nurses, and a Low Cost Spay and Neuter Nook in Davidsonville. The AACFB shared surplus items (walkers, bedside commodes, desks etc.) with the Orphan Grain Train which sent items to South Sudan, Liberia, and India. Additional support was provided to Haiti, a couple medical clinics in Nicaragua and Honduras (photo at clinic on left) and several Ghana hospitals, clinics and schools to assist with missionary work.
Our county has several separate transit systems working independently offering limited access which makes obtaining better jobs more difficult. To combat this challenge, the Anne Arundel County Food Bank offers a Vehicle Assistance Program matching families up with donated vehicles. Surveys show that those assisted with vehicles end up with better jobs , a safer community to live in and for many, a college degree. In FY 17 the AACFB distributed 2 cars. One of these cars went to a Vet that battled PTSD after returning from combat and ended up homeless. He went into a shelter, received help and is no longer homeless. In addition to the car the AACFB also assisted him with furniture, clothing and toiletries. Below is a photo of this veteran receiving the keys to his new car, curtesy of the AACFB. A new partnership has been forged with a technical school to make minor repairs ensuring that vehicles distributed pass emissions and are roadworthy. This partnership will eliminate labor costs associated with the repairs allowing the AACFB to do more on our limited budget. FY 17 was a year of change. The State had released the administration of The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to the MD Food Bank. When this occurred the Feds conducted an audit and offered their assistance to ensure a smooth transition. During this time TEFAP underwent many changes which directly affected the AACFB. To comply with these updates the AACFB restructured/reorganized the entire warehouse. This took over (6) six months, 45 dumpsters and a lot of time to complete however the end result is an organized warehouse that expedites workflow.
During the reorganization the AACFB conducted approximately 25 pantries on the go. Pantries on the go enabled the AACFB to distribute household items, clothing, toys, food and more to over 16,000 people in need.
The clients we assist typically do not have room for large items due to space constraints. Our clients are unable to take china cabinets, armoires, buffets, islands, long dressers, etc. To ensure continued movement of donated items not utilized through our programs the AACFB started a Market Place for our member agencies and a monthly yard sale. The Market Place allows our member agencies to grab a grocery cart and add items at no charge for use by their program or to distribute to their clients. These items include but are not limited to cleaning products, toiletries, paper products, holiday and household décor, toys, and office supplies. The yard sale is a monthly fundraiser that occurs the first Saturday of every month from 9am – 12 noon. The yard sale contains the above named large items and items in surplus. All funds raised go back into the food bank.
The Anne Arundel County Food Bank works hard to meet the needs of Anne Arundel County with a staff of 6 employees. Employees consist of an Executive Director, Associate Director, Office Manager, Member Relations Coordinator, a Bookkeeper, and a Driver. To defray costs volunteers are used to assist with office work, picking up donations, answering phones, sorting food and making minor repairs. The major funding to support staff salaries came from the AA County Community Support grant.
Special recognition in FY 17 goes to:
The operations of the Anne Arundel County Food Bank continue to grow as the needs and diversity of our clients increase. We look forward to continuing our mission ensuring all those in need have access to essential basic necessities not only to improve life quality but to help families and individuals get out of crisis, stay out of crisis and ultimately become self-sufficient.